Friday, 18 March 2011

Everyone has a first time

At the end of February our club took three students to represent Derby in an MMA event, Sprawl ‘n’ Brawl, which was held in Birmingham. There were nearly 1500 spectators there on the night who travelled from across the country to watch the matches.

We had three young guys representing the club in both the amateur and semi-pro divisions of the competition. It was an exciting night and we are very pleased to say that our only semi-pro entrant, Anthony Bridgett defeated his opponent with an outstanding level of endurance and ground fighting skills, walking away unscathed and with a unanimous vote in his favour from the judges, claiming victory in his first ever MMA competition.

An MMA match is exciting at the best of times, but for one of the clubs members, Gemma Kane (our first female member but no longer the only girl!) it was twice as exciting as it was her very first one. Keep reading for her take on the exciting first time experience.

Popping the MMA Cherry

I know it's a bad title but you were all thinking it!

First off, you should know I have never even watched a boxing match on TV. However, I have seen my fair share of martial arts films and been training for nearly four years. Before getting to the venue I had a strange nervous sensation, not knowing at all what to expect, and also because we had 3 guys from Derby competing in a 1500 strong crowd of brummies. I couldn't see them cuddling and giving each other reassuring pep talks before the match let's put it that way. 

Well I was mistaken. You see being a short stop I needed to get good seats I wanted to see our guys compete. So I grabbed a couple of stools on what was essentially the wrong side of the ring and away from my team mates. It was great! I think it added to the experience, we talked about the matches with everyone and a couple of the fighters we didn't know gave a wave and a smile as we applauded them after the matches. Brill!

The second thing you should know about me is I am actually quite reserved. Yes, really. I have never been able to shout out at sporting matches, never talked to the TV when I don't like what is happening in a film. Well that all went out the window the second one of my team mates was in the ring. I nearly fell of the stool standing and leaning forward in the vain hope they could hear my encouragement over the crowd!

Before any of our own clubs entrants were in the ring, we witnessed an array of martial arts abilities from some seriously weighted punches to some highflying kicks and full on body drops, not bad for a nights entertainment! However, I am sorry to disappoint you now and break the illusion but it wasn’t any of those such fancy moves that brought victory to the competitors that night. In many cases it was actually quite difficult for the spectator to see who the clear winner was, due to the pure level of fitness and length of endurance these young sportsmen have. Rolling back and forth on the ground they were relentless and in some cases impeccably matched. This scenario continued throughout the night, but just when the audience thought they had it all sussed, out of nowhere we saw our first tap out, only 3 matches in! With an arm bar no less, the victor defeated his opponent with the most basic of JuJutsu moves, but it was so effective. We saw this time and time again throughout the different matches, someone’s guard being let down for the slightest moment and then their arm was lost. These moves are the foundation stone upon which the martial art is built, and this just reinforces the need for their prominence during training.

Moving into the semi-pros, you (some of you) will be excited to hear we saw our first KO of the competition. For those of you who have never seen this before (and I hadn’t) it does not mean the opponent fell to the floor unconscious and was carried away on a stretcher. Though it was phenomenal to see so perhaps a quick verbal replay:

            The two opponents were well matched in size and technique with neither one demonstrating a clear advantage. They had been dancing around each other both on the ground and on their feet and made it through to the second round.  A semi-pro fight allows shots to the head, so as the two opponents moved around the ring, one thrusting at the other with the slightest hint of a dropped guard, opponent A swung in for a headshot which stunned opponent B and caught him of guard, with his back against the ring  his eyes were like dinner plates and blood and spit literally flew from his mouth. His legs turned to jelly, and visibly gave way beneath him, flying forward as he slid to the floor and simply sat down! It was a unanimous victory for opponent A. The losing opponent was fully compos mentis and in possession of all of his faculties as he stood up to congratulate the victor and shake hands.

Overall there were about 16 matches, and to replay each one would send you to sleep, but I can assure that after seeing each one I was very much wide awake! The thing with MMA is the endless possibilities it brings. A boxer is a boxer. He stands on his feet he punches with his fists and dodges those thrown at him. What does a boxer do when he comes up against a ground fighting expert? One swift trip to the ground and the dynamic shifts, in seconds a persons strengths and assets are taken from them. The only way to succeed is to reposition themselves and keep on fighting. 

If that's not a metaphor for life then I don't know what is. I really can't wait to see my next match but I have a sneaky suspicion I wont have to wait long.

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